Sofia Gubaidulina’s Viola Concerto Recorded with a Newly Adapted Solo Part

The Concerto for Viola and Orchestra by Sofia Gubaidulina composed in 1996  begins rather sparsely, for – as the composer says – her idea was “to create something highly diverse out of a single tone. First one tone, then it proceeds to a minor second.” This slow, frequently interrupted structure of the work creates incredible tension. Many elegiac passages are combined with motivic cells in the accompanying orchestra.

In 2015, Gubaidulina adapted the solo part of the Viola Concerto which was written twenty years ago for the violist Yuri Bashmet. The fascinating violist Antoine Tamestit and the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie under Jonathan Nott’s direction have now recorded the Concerto in this new version on the EMCD label together with Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9 in D minor. Gubaidulina’s and Bruckner’s respective sound worlds have quite a bit in common. As Jonathan Nott says, “Sofia Gubaidulina and Anton Bruckner created worlds of their own, and are both modern in their respective times in the best sense of the word. They are united by their mastery of the development of large compositional forms and by a spiritually influenced sonic conception.”

For Gubaidulina, the sound spectrum, dark timbre and great variability of the viola have always been highly stimulating. In her Viola Concert, however, the composer has one more surprise in store for the listener: “The strangely mysterious, veiled quality of the viola’ timbre has always been enigmatic to me, but at the same time the reason for my enthusiasm. It was precisely this characteristic of the viola, too, that led me to add a new element to the work’s list of instruments - an element suitable for providing a new sonic dimension that is strongly differentiated from that of the orchestral sound. This is a solo string quartet the instruments of which are tuned a quarter-tone lower.”

Sofia Gubaidulina
Concerto for Viola and Orchestra
(with the newly adapted solo part, 2015)
Antoine Tamestit (viola)
Junge Deutsche Philharmonie
Jonathan Nott (conductor)


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